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YouTube Chilean-US Comedy Hits Netflix

  • Reuters

YouTube series "Gringolandia" graphics

YouTube series "Gringolandia" graphics

A YouTube comedy hit about a South American immigrant opening up a Chilean-style hotdog stand in New York has become one of the first from the video-sharing website to be picked up by Netflix.

'Gringolandia' is the brainchild of 33-year-old Chilean Cristobal Ross, who drew on his experiences living in the United States to create a story about the bemused Peter, played by Koke Santa Ana, who introduces Americans to streams of Chilean slang (subtitles provided) and the 'completo', a popular snack that consists of a hotdog drowned in mayonnaise, avocado and tomato.

The six-minute-long episodes debuted on YouTube in 2013, and were later consolidated into longer episodes for two mini-series on Internet streaming service Netflix.

A third series is due out on November 25 and a spin-off is in the works.

As well as North America and much of Europe, Netflix is available throughout South America. That has encouraged the development of programming based in Latin America, such as 'Narcos', a series about Colombian drug-lord Pablo Escobar, and upcoming dystopian show '3%', shot in Brazil.

Ross, who trained as an industrial engineer and is from Punta Arenas in the cold Patagonian steppe, does not perhaps have a conventional filmmaking background.

A passionate movie lover, he decided to leave his job managing fuel at an airline, move to New York, and cobble together enough savings to make a "fish out of water" story that appeals to Latin Americans at home and in the United States.

"If you make good content you can grow something," Ross told Reuters in Santiago, where he is currently based. "You don't need a network of people, just good ideas."

Storytelling for the web is a greater challenge in many ways than more conventional forms, he said, as people engage with it via mobile devices and the pace needs to be fast and relentless.

"There's an unsatisfied demand for web content created specifically for the digital medium," said Ross. "TV doesn't get that and I see huge opportunity in that."